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Converted Sprayer Seeds Cover Crops
“We’ve seen real good benefits with cover crops in corn and soybeans over the past five years,” says Celina, Ohio farmer Matt VanTilburg, “but getting that seed planted in a timely and cost effective way has been a challenge. It looks like we’ve got that problem solved with this seeding system that we adapted onto a used Walker sprayer.”
  Vantilburg Farms now has a machine that can plant 400 to 500 acres of cover crop seed a day in standing corn and soybeans. “It operates just like any other 90-ft. wide self-propelled sprayer equipped with GPS and auto steer,” says Matt. “We can move the boom height up and down nearly 6 ft., plant in fully grown corn and soybeans and do very little damage to the mature crops.” The wheels have a variable tread width of 106 to 154 in.
  VanTilburg and his farm engineer, Larry Pingry, found a refurbished self-propelled Walker sprayer with the liquid tank removed. A local welding shop built them a 150-bushel seed tank. Pingry installed a Salford distribution system that pulls seed out of the tank and blows it through rubber hoses across the 90-ft. boom to 3-ft. pvc drop tubes placed on 30-in. centers. They carry the seed down closes to the ground, where a metal nozzle deflects seed evenly between the rows of standing crops. The 200 hp machine planted 6,000 acres in 2011 and almost 12,000 acres in 2012.
  “As long as the seed doesn’t have any foreign matter, the lines and nozzles don’t plug,” Matt says. Depending on the seed being planted they apply 10 to 60 lbs. per acre and travel 12 to 13 mph. The machine has a Dickey-John metering system and the tank has a scale so the operator knows exactly how many pounds of seed is being planted per acre.
  “It works great for inter-seeding rye, clover and radishes in standing crops,” says Matt. To capture late season moisture and get the cover crop seeds growing strong they start seeding in corn around August first and soybeans when leaves start to yellow. “We also used it to seed alfalfa and to seed wheat before vertical tillage and the stand was real nice,” says Matt. In 2013 they plan to experiment with intercropping soybeans into standing wheat and side dressing urea with the machine, which they call the Kover Kropper. The machine’s seed tank is made from stainless steel to prevent corrosion from urea. They’re also building a second machine and have had conversations with sprayer companies about adapting their concept onto liquid booms without removing the wet systems.
  “I think our machine is a good long-term investment,” Matt says. “We use it on our farm and also do custom work in a 60-mile radius. We’re planting valuable cover crops that do a great job of keeping the soil alive, making nutrients more available for next year’s crop and protecting the soil from erosion.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Matt VanTilburg, VanTilburg Farms, 8398 Celina Mendon Rd., Celina, Ohio 45822 (ph 419 586-3077; www.VanTilburgFarms.com).

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2013 - Volume #37, Issue #3